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Asia

KAENG KRACHAN NATIONAL PARK

This is Thailand’s largest park, 1,190 square miles (3,083 km2) of evergreen forest, mountains, waterfalls, and grasslands on the Phetchaburi Peninsula with tigers, Asian elephants, and black bears, leopards, giant squirrels, dusky leaf monkeys, and an abundance of birds and butterflies. More than 300 avian species, some at the southern extreme of their Myanmar and northern Thailand ranges, others at the northern end of their peninsular Thailand and Malayan ranges, include such colorful specialties as laced and bamboo woodpeckers, plain-pouched hornbills, moustached barbets, yellow-vented green pigeons, olive bulbuls, and an isolated population of racquet-tailed treepies. Because this area receives some of Thailand’s heaviest rainfall, rain forest is especially lush but also least explored. Best times are November–April. The park (112 miles/180 km by road southwest of Bangkok) has guides (though few speak English) for longer trails; lodging near park headquarters, nearby guesthouses; camping by permit. The park’s dirt roads can be explored by 4WD vehicle, and boats can be rented on the Kaeng Krachan Reservoir above the dam. Rafting can be arranged on Phetchaburi River in the park.

ALSO OF INTEREST

Many Buddhist monasteries throughout the country are, because of Buddhism’s reverence for life, de facto sanctuaries. Outstanding among them is Wat Phai Lom, home to an extraordinary colony November–May of nesting pairs of Asian open-billed storks and many other species in a 30-acre (12-ha) grove of trees 25 miles (40 km) north of Bangkok.

Khao Sok National Park
with adjoining protected areas is 477 square miles (1,236 km2) of mostly virgin rain forest with elephants, buffalo, primates, Asiatic wild dogs, clouded leopards, a few tigers and other jungle cats, also rafflesia, world’s largest flower, 2.6 feet (80 cm) across. Treehouse-style lodging.

Thung Salaeng Luang Wildlife Sanctuary
is 487 square miles (1,262 km2) of meadows and dipterocarp forest known for Siamese fireback pheasants.

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